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Christmas, Consumerism, and Traditions


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A friend posted a poem written by her grandmother. I thought it appropriate for this thread. 🎄

Ready for Christmas, she said with a sigh,
As she gave a last touch to the gifts piled high,
Then wearily sat for a moment and read,
Till soon, very soon, she was nodding her head.
Then quietly spoke a voice in her dream,
Ready for Christmas? What do you mean?
Ready for Christmas when only last week
You wouldn't acknowledge your friend on the street.
Ready for Christmas, while holding a grudge?
Perhaps you had better let God be the judge,
Why, how can the Christ-child come and abide
In the heart that is selfish and filled with pride?
Ready for Christmas when only today
A beggar lad came and you turned him away
Without even a smile to show that you cared?
The little he asked it could have been spared.
Ready for Christmas? You've worked, it is true,
But just doing the things that you wanted to do.
Ready for Christmas? Your circles too small
Why, you are not ready for Christmas at all!
She awoke with a start and a cry of despair,
There's so little time and I've still to prepare.
O Father, forgive me, I see what You mean,
To be ready means more than a house swept clean.
Yes, more than the giving of gifts and a tree,
It's the heart swept clean that He wants to see;
A heart that is free from bitterness, sin
Ready for Christmas and ready for HIM.
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1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:

I know this is not a new idea, obviously, but I was hoping to have a conversation on how we can "steal" Christmas back from consumerism.

I'm noting here that consumerism is increasingly tied to patriotism. We get fairly regular messaging, that we should spend for the good of the nation.

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1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:

If we buy and spend less, though, does the economy suffer? A lot of businesses rely on the holiday season.

I missed this the first time thru.

About Frances' message; he isn't the first Pope to share it. However, that message isn't echoed by major Christian leaders in the US, not with any breadth or consistency anyway.

My take that is we (the US) have created (and continue to create) a system where our welfare is tied to consumer purchasing. I don't see this changing. Meanwhile, the Church gives us guidance that equates to throttling consumerist tendencies, while understanding that we work in jobs that require broad and growing consumerism.

The message would seem to be that we should draw what we need from this system, while contributing as little as is reasonable. I'm okay with this. If I ever add a signature here, it might say something like "A well-understood life is rife with disharmony."

 

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1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:

There is the common phrase "let's put Christ back in Christmas" and that's kinda what I'm getting at here. I like to respond to that phrase with "yes, and let's also put the mass back in Christmas." One way to put Christ in the forefront is to practice religious observances. Liturgical Christians have wonderful religious traditions that we can use leading up to and including Christmas day (I personally go to midnight Mass and sometimes also dawn). How does the LDS church use services during the Christmas season? Do you think there could be more, like a service on Christmas eve or Christmas day?

In my experience we only explicitly acknowledge the Advent on the last Sunday before Christmas Day, which is called the "Christmas program". We have the sacrament and then after that comes a presentation of "music and the spoken word", as we call it. There's usually a reading of Luke 2. Definitely a few Christmas hymns performed with vocals or a variety of instruments. Occasionally a brief Christmas message or two are shared. That's the only real formal celebration of Christmas in our services, at least in my experiences. Some wards will do Christmas service projects, the youth groups almost always have from what I've seen. My stake works with local philanthropists and the local coordinating council of Christian charities to curate a Christmas experience for the least of these in our community. 

As for Christmas Day itself, there's no formal service if it falls on any day other than Sunday. I can only remember two years where Christmas fell on a Sunday. One of them, the ward cancelled services that week. The other, they did not. As a kid I liked the cancellation of services. As a man I am displeased. My family occasionally would go to a Midnight Mass or some other Christmas Eve service, and I endorse the practice and would like a special Christmas service. 

2 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

I find that the ease of online shopping might be a detriment. I go to amazon, poke around, buy something, and have them wrap it and send it. It takes minimal effort and I never even see the gift. And it makes amazon lots of money. It seems pretty much like consumerism to me. Instead I want to try to buy more local, special, unique gifts that I wrap and send myself.

If we buy and spend less, though, does the economy suffer? A lot of businesses rely on the holiday season.

It would be a near fatal blow to smaller retailers. Unfortunately, however, given the disruptions of COVID-19, we may not have to worry about that too much in the immediate future. 

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2 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Today before the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis made comments concerning Christmas and consumerism:

I know this is not a new idea, obviously, but I was hoping to have a conversation on how we can "steal" Christmas back from consumerism.

What are ways that we can put Christ in the forefront of our Christmas traditions and celebrations? Should we make gift-giving, a noble practice, less dominant? How could we make gift-giving more Christian?

I find that the ease of online shopping might be a detriment. I go to amazon, poke around, buy something, and have them wrap it and send it. It takes minimal effort and I never even see the gift. And it makes amazon lots of money. It seems pretty much like consumerism to me. Instead I want to try to buy more local, special, unique gifts that I wrap and send myself.

If we buy and spend less, though, does the economy suffer? A lot of businesses rely on the holiday season.

The Pope discussed how Mary gave an "active yes" to God's invitation during the Annunciation, and that we should do the same. He also said that we shouldn't complain during this difficult time, and try do so much for ourselves and our friends, but instead do something for those that no-one is thinking of.

There is the common phrase "let's put Christ back in Christmas" and that's kinda what I'm getting at here. I like to respond to that phrase with "yes, and let's also put the mass back in Christmas." One way to put Christ in the forefront is to practice religious observances. Liturgical Christians have wonderful religious traditions that we can use leading up to and including Christmas day (I personally go to midnight Mass and sometimes also dawn). How does the LDS church use services during the Christmas season? Do you think there could be more, like a service on Christmas eve or Christmas day?

Any other thoughts on Christmas traditions would be welcome, too, such as things you do already or would like to do, etc.

Happy fourth Sunday of Advent! We are in the octave before Christmas, so this hymn, based on the O Antiphons, is most appropriate (the video is a recording of the schola from Christendom College):

 

 

You might like this.

 

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19 minutes ago, Chum said:

I missed this the first time thru.

About Frances' message; he isn't the first Pope to share it. However, that message isn't echoed by major Christian leaders in the US, not with any breadth or consistency anyway.

My take that is we (the US) have created (and continue to create) a system where our welfare is tied to consumer purchasing. I don't see this changing. Meanwhile, the Church gives us guidance that equates to throttling consumerist tendencies, while understanding that we work in jobs that require broad and growing consumerism.

The message would seem to be that we should draw what we need from this system, while contributing as little as is reasonable. I'm okay with this. If I ever add a signature here, it might say something like "A well-understood life is rife with disharmony."

 

Our most prominent measure of successful governance is GDP, which is calculated using consumption. So long as neoliberal economic prosperity remains the measure of good governance in our society, consumerism is destiny. 

I hate to say it but if we're going to shake consumerist philosophy and its externalities, we're going to have to shuck the idea that national and personal wealth is the measure of success. It's going to have to be a secondary concern or the Almighty Dollar's throne will be quite secure. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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18 minutes ago, Chum said:

I missed this the first time thru.

About Frances' message; he isn't the first Pope to share it. However, that message isn't echoed by major Christian leaders in the US, not with any breadth or consistency anyway.

My take that is we (the US) have created (and continue to create) a system where our welfare is tied to consumer purchasing. I don't see this changing. Meanwhile, the Church gives us guidance that equates to throttling consumerist tendencies, while understanding that we work in jobs that require broad and growing consumerism.

The message would seem to be that we should draw what we need from this system, while contributing as little as is reasonable. I'm okay with this. If I ever add a signature here, it might say something like "A well-understood life is rife with disharmony."

 

There are traditional Parishes that are still very old school, SSPX does things the pre Vatican 2 way.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, poptart said:

SSPX does things the pre Vatican 2 way

They're an interesting bunch. Can't recall if I've ever come across them before. Enjoying the catch-up.

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8 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Our most prominent measure of successful governance is GDP, which is calculated using consumption. So long as neoliberal economic prosperity remains the measure of good governance in our society, consumerism is destiny. 

I hate to say it but if we're going to shake consumerist philosophy and its externalities, we're going to have to shuck the idea that national and personal wealth is the measure of success. It's going to have to be a secondary concern or the Almighty Dollar's throne will be quite secure. 

Some are.  With what's coming economy wise I think we may see more of this, hopefully.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/01/retreat-christian-soldiers/603043/

Book you might like, the benedict option.  It addresses what you just mentioned and how some people are reacting to it.  A lot more men are staying single nowadays, besides selfishness a lot of us are very much sick and tired of how things are so they just opt out and live quiet lives.  One of the biggest gripes I've had with mainstream religion here stateside is just how worldly and consumerist it is.  A lot of the mainline denominations do nothing for the poor and/or elderly, no money in it.  A lot of people especially millenials have just upped and left organized religion due to politics and the hypocrisy that's so rampant.  Bright side is you're seeing the likes of SSPX just boom popularity wise.  In a lot of their churches the pews are packed with young families.  The men are in suits, the women wear veils just like you would see in a lot of Parishes in Europe.  Even schismatics like CMRI are quite popular now.  Who knows, maybe we'll see a return to that.  With the bad economic times coming I think we're going to see the end results of consumerism play out in a sad way. 

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5 minutes ago, Chum said:

They're an interesting bunch. Can't recall if I've ever come across them before. Enjoying the catch-up.

I have, very, very traditional.  I've been affiliated with CMRI as well.  That's why whenever I do go to church it's usually Mass.  I'll admit it, I can be very judgemental and intolorant of people because of how my life has been.  I live quietly for a reason, it keeps me out of trouble and removes the temptation of opening my mouth to some entitled suburbanite who complains about how hard it is to raise entitled children.  If I said half the things I do here IRL i'd have so many enemies.  Anyway, yeah I love the trinitine mass.  It's so structured and beautiful, a sight to behold. 

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2 hours ago, Chum said:

I'm noting here that consumerism is increasingly tied to patriotism. We get fairly regular messaging, that we should spend for the good of the nation.

 

1 hour ago, Chum said:

My take that is we (the US) have created (and continue to create) a system where our welfare is tied to consumer purchasing. I don't see this changing. Meanwhile, the Church gives us guidance that equates to throttling consumerist tendencies, while understanding that we work in jobs that require broad and growing consumerism.

 

1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

Our most prominent measure of successful governance is GDP, which is calculated using consumption. So long as neoliberal economic prosperity remains the measure of good governance in our society, consumerism is destiny. 

I hate to say it but if we're going to shake consumerist philosophy and its externalities, we're going to have to shuck the idea that national and personal wealth is the measure of success. It's going to have to be a secondary concern or the Almighty Dollar's throne will be quite secure. 

Yes, I agree with these viewpoints. We're too tired to consumer spending, both as the foundation of our economy and as a measure of success. How to change that is beyond me, though. We've dug ourselves in. I remember after 9/11 the government encouraging us to spend so that the economy wouldn't tank. It was a strange message for sure, given the circumstances: the most patriotic thing you can do right now is buy things.

Edited by MiserereNobis
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1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

In my experience we only explicitly acknowledge the Advent on the last Sunday before Christmas Day, which is called the "Christmas program". We have the sacrament and then after that comes a presentation of "music and the spoken word", as we call it. There's usually a reading of Luke 2. Definitely a few Christmas hymns performed with vocals or a variety of instruments. Occasionally a brief Christmas message or two are shared. That's the only real formal celebration of Christmas in our services, at least in my experiences. Some wards will do Christmas service projects, the youth groups almost always have from what I've seen. My stake works with local philanthropists and the local coordinating council of Christian charities to curate a Christmas experience for the least of these in our community. 

As for Christmas Day itself, there's no formal service if it falls on any day other than Sunday. I can only remember two years where Christmas fell on a Sunday. One of them, the ward cancelled services that week. The other, they did not. As a kid I liked the cancellation of services. As a man I am displeased. My family occasionally would go to a Midnight Mass or some other Christmas Eve service, and I endorse the practice and would like a special Christmas service. 

Thanks for sharing the information on the Christmas program. Sounds like a good typical "protestant" (nothing negative meant by it) service. It's nice that service projects are included, too, since that's at the heart of the spirit of Christmas.

Is there any reason given that there isn't a formal service held on Christmas Eve or Christmas day? Is it doctrinal or just a practice? Also, if there were such a service (and it's not on a Sunday), could sacrament (communion) be given? I'm just wondering if there are rules regarding LDS sacrament on days other than Sundays.

What might such a service look like? (question for anyone)

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12 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Today before the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis made comments concerning Christmas and consumerism:

I know this is not a new idea, obviously, but I was hoping to have a conversation on how we can "steal" Christmas back from consumerism.

What are ways that we can put Christ in the forefront of our Christmas traditions and celebrations? Should we make gift-giving, a noble practice, less dominant? How could we make gift-giving more Christian?

I find that the ease of online shopping might be a detriment. I go to amazon, poke around, buy something, and have them wrap it and send it. It takes minimal effort and I never even see the gift. And it makes amazon lots of money. It seems pretty much like consumerism to me. Instead I want to try to buy more local, special, unique gifts that I wrap and send myself.

If we buy and spend less, though, does the economy suffer? A lot of businesses rely on the holiday season.

The Pope discussed how Mary gave an "active yes" to God's invitation during the Annunciation, and that we should do the same. He also said that we shouldn't complain during this difficult time, and try do so much for ourselves and our friends, but instead do something for those that no-one is thinking of.

There is the common phrase "let's put Christ back in Christmas" and that's kinda what I'm getting at here. I like to respond to that phrase with "yes, and let's also put the mass back in Christmas." One way to put Christ in the forefront is to practice religious observances. Liturgical Christians have wonderful religious traditions that we can use leading up to and including Christmas day (I personally go to midnight Mass and sometimes also dawn). How does the LDS church use services during the Christmas season? Do you think there could be more, like a service on Christmas eve or Christmas day?

Any other thoughts on Christmas traditions would be welcome, too, such as things you do already or would like to do, etc.

Happy fourth Sunday of Advent! We are in the octave before Christmas, so this hymn, based on the O Antiphons, is most appropriate (the video is a recording of the schola from Christendom College):

 

 

Not to detract at all from your remarks, which are thoughtful and wise, but another way to look at it is if the gift purchase and delivery can be made more efficient (via online merchandising and shipping) it could ease our burdens somewhat and free our minds to focus on the spiritual dimensions of Christmas. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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6 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Not to detract at all from your remarks, which are thoughtful and wise, but another way to look at it is if the gift purchase and delivery can be mad more efficient (via online merchandising and shipping) it could ease our burdens somewhat and free our minds to focus on the spiritual dimensions of Christmas. 

That's a great point, Scott (and nice to see you -- I've noticed you haven't been posting much lately and I'm sorry that your thread got shut down because of politics). It probably, like most spiritual things, has to do with our heart. If we approach the efficiency with the idea we can use the saved time to do something spiritual -- pray, read, help someone out -- then I think it's ok. Maybe for me it's just too easy to click the purchase button and then that's that. Something for me to think about.

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Christmas has been very much tied to capitalism and the making of profit. And of course, gifts make the profit. However, when I was a kid in the 1960s I received many presents from my dad and my relatives. I looked forward to the gifts. But there were also TV Christmas specials: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, (Christmas carols) not to mention the Christmas specials for Kids. And religion played more of a role back then. Christmas carols on TV, and the birth of Jesus was in the Christmas music. It was a mixture of gifts and religion. School plays usually performed the nativity. And in my town, we kids knew that we would be attending the children service or mass. The  birth of Jesus was present during Christmas and gifts could be plentiful too. Now, the religious meaning has more or less disappeared and we have a made for profit Christmas without the Jesus. And that has made all the difference and why people are quick to apply the consumerist angle, including the Pope.

Edited by why me
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29 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

@Chum and @poptart:

Your two resident Catholics on this board (me and 3DOP) are both lovers of the pre-Vatican II liturgy. 3DOP attends an SSPX chapel and I an FSSP one.

The Tridentine Mass, the Mass of All Ages, is beautiful in every way: aesthetically, spiritually, doctrinally.

There's an FSSP church near me, went there once for Easter. 

38 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Thanks for sharing the information on the Christmas program. Sounds like a good typical "protestant" (nothing negative meant by it) service. It's nice that service projects are included, too, since that's at the heart of the spirit of Christmas.

Is there any reason given that there isn't a formal service held on Christmas Eve or Christmas day? Is it doctrinal or just a practice? Also, if there were such a service (and it's not on a Sunday), could sacrament (communion) be given? I'm just wondering if there are rules regarding LDS sacrament on days other than Sundays.

What might such a service look like? (question for anyone)

High Church Lutherans and Episcopal/Anglicans somewhat have a Catholic format.  It's not as common as it used to be here, sadly.  Someday I want to spend Christmas in Bavaria, I hear it's beautiful.  I know some people don't approve but I do like how gov't there requires a Crucifix to be in all state buildings.  The Church there is the 2nd biggest employer as well.  People complain about the Church tax, at least here.  I suspect that the faithful are all for it.  Tithing is very biblical, that and it's fair.  You benefit from something?  Pay your fair share.  Never understood why that's such a hard concept for some.

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3 hours ago, poptart said:

There are traditional Parishes that are still very old school, SSPX does things the pre Vatican 2 way.

 

 

Thanks for posting the old mass. I love Catholic masses, though I can't understand a word that's said (and given my theological commitments perhaps that's for the best). But I'll readily confess that Gregorian chants are criminally underrepresented on the Billboard Top 100. 

3 hours ago, poptart said:

 

Book you might like, the benedict option.  It addresses what you just mentioned and how some people are reacting to it.  A lot more men are staying single nowadays, besides selfishness a lot of us are very much sick and tired of how things are so they just opt out and live quiet lives.  One of the biggest gripes I've had with mainstream religion here stateside is just how worldly and consumerist it is.  A lot of the mainline denominations do nothing for the poor and/or elderly, no money in it.  A lot of people especially millenials have just upped and left organized religion due to politics and the hypocrisy that's so rampant.  Bright side is you're seeing the likes of SSPX just boom popularity wise.  In a lot of their churches the pews are packed with young families.  The men are in suits, the women wear veils just like you would see in a lot of Parishes in Europe.  Even schismatics like CMRI are quite popular now.  Who knows, maybe we'll see a return to that.  With the bad economic times coming I think we're going to see the end results of consumerism play out in a sad way. 

Repeated application of the Benedict Option is part of my heritage. Of course, I'd call it the Brigham Option. 😉 I haven't read Dreher's book but I hope to do so. 

Sadly, I think your assessment is quite right. I am left to wonder how exactly our furious consumption will play out: will the consequences come first in the guise of environmental problems or social decay? Will we see a return to tradition or a full leap into hitherto uncharted waters? I couldn't say. 

2 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Thanks for sharing the information on the Christmas program. Sounds like a good typical "protestant" (nothing negative meant by it) service. It's nice that service projects are included, too, since that's at the heart of the spirit of Christmas.

Is there any reason given that there isn't a formal service held on Christmas Eve or Christmas day? Is it doctrinal or just a practice? Also, if there were such a service (and it's not on a Sunday), could sacrament (communion) be given? I'm just wondering if there are rules regarding LDS sacrament on days other than Sundays.

What might such a service look like? (question for anyone)

You're welcome. Indeed, like much of our Church's "four blank walls and a sermon" practice, our Christmas programs have a strong Protestant flavor. 

I haven't heard an official reason given for why we don't have formal Christmas Day services, though when they cancelled the church service that one year they said it was to "let everyone spend the day with their families." Such thinking could go into the decision not to have a Christmas Day service, but honestly I think we don't have them because we've historically just met for church on Sundays and there's no special liturgy which would set apart a Christmas Day service, so it would only be different from your average Sunday service because of its focus. Sacrament could be given, it can be given whenever or wherever an appropriate authority (bishop or other presiding authority) permits. The Quorum of the Twelve actually take the sacrament in their weekly meetings because their Sundays are usually at stake conferences where the sacrament is not passed. 

I don't know how different a special Christmas Day service would look from the standard Christmas program. I forgot to mention that the First Presidency do broadcast a worldwide Christmas Devotional each year, so it might have some global messages involved, but our Church meetings are generally pretty homegrown so I don't know how different a special Christmas service could be without instituting a new form of worship. 

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48 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Thanks for posting the old mass. I love Catholic masses, though I can't understand a word that's said (and given my theological commitments perhaps that's for the best). But I'll readily confess that Gregorian chants are criminally underrepresented on the Billboard Top 100. 

Repeated application of the Benedict Option is part of my heritage. Of course, I'd call it the Brigham Option. 😉 I haven't read Dreher's book but I hope to do so. 

Sadly, I think your assessment is quite right. I am left to wonder how exactly our furious consumption will play out: will the consequences come first in the guise of environmental problems or social decay? Will we see a return to tradition or a full leap into hitherto uncharted waters? I couldn't say. 

You're welcome. Indeed, like much of our Church's "four blank walls and a sermon" practice, our Christmas programs have a strong Protestant flavor. 

I haven't heard an official reason given for why we don't have formal Christmas Day services, though when they cancelled the church service that one year they said it was to "let everyone spend the day with their families." Such thinking could go into the decision not to have a Christmas Day service, but honestly I think we don't have them because we've historically just met for church on Sundays and there's no special liturgy which would set apart a Christmas Day service, so it would only be different from your average Sunday service because of its focus. Sacrament could be given, it can be given whenever or wherever an appropriate authority (bishop or other presiding authority) permits. The Quorum of the Twelve actually take the sacrament in their weekly meetings because their Sundays are usually at stake conferences where the sacrament is not passed. 

I don't know how different a special Christmas Day service would look from the standard Christmas program. I forgot to mention that the First Presidency do broadcast a worldwide Christmas Devotional each year, so it might have some global messages involved, but our Church meetings are generally pretty homegrown so I don't know how different a special Christmas service could be without instituting a new form of worship. 

If you want to read something a lot more on the fringes check out Ride the Tiger, it touches on Hermeticism quite a bit.  A lot of people, especially single men are to a degree going this route.  It's so easy to be ruined by someone thanks to social media so many men look for ways out.  This was another reason why I changed fields a few years ago, I can avoid a lot of the drama and move around fairly easily.  His book isn't popular in a lot of circles for a few reasons, I think.  He bashes both sides of the political spectrum and calls people out.  Christians, like a lot of people here stateside have lost their way and with the way things are I agree with him, the USA is in for some bad times.  Brigham Option?  Hmmm, ok.  I'll give the Latter Day saints many compliments, one of them being they turned a desert into a habitable city when they went to Utah, that and the city is so well laid out.  Also your food aid is simply a marvel to behold, your social aid period you do via LDS Charities/Deseret Industries is amazing.  You guys are lacking in the vestments/bring department but then again whenever I do post something Christian it's usually High church and almost always Catholic so I do have a bias. 

I personally think we're going to end up like a lot of Latin American countries, islands of wealth surrounded by oceans of poverty.  Families here are a mess and I doubt that's going to change.  Being a decent person is a choice, one I think most anymore will not make.  US society makes it too easy to be a slimeball, we've seen it with how many children have to grow up in some very abusive homes.  Here's something that a lot of your typical American Christian can't even fathom, God may have had it with people here and plans to take away his favor.  People here have had it made and for a few generations now just stood by while things kept getting worse and worse.  I do think we're at the point of no return.  You see a lot more single men now who have to a great degree disengaged from society, for good reason.  Anymore people are looked at as nothing more than an exploitable resource and anyone who dares call anyone out for the amoral things they push may fall victim to things like "cancel culture" or doxing.  That and the values I see a lot of people here having makes me sick to my stomach.  I know a lot of people like to retort with statements along the line of "Don't judge!  Don't judge!"  They forget, after Christ forgave the woman who was about to be stoned to death he also said go your way and sin no more.  Things like that sure make concepts like "Ride the Tiger" and "The Benedict Option" look very, very attractive.  Fortunately, there are traditional communities popping up here in the USA.  We even have a Trappist monastery in the East Coast now that brews Trappist ale, something you really don't see outside of Europe. 

I'm all for a collapse of sorts.  Besides having the life that I have had part of me is enjoying the chaos.  For once the privileged WASP suburbanites are getting a taste of what the other half has to deal with day in and day out.  I think having what security and privilege they feel entitled to stripped away would do them a lot of good.  Poverty does humble you and in my opinion there are a lot of people out there who not only don't deserve what they have, many people who did inherit wealth from hard working parents just squander it.  The Lord Gives the Lord takes is still a thing.  My understanding is the LDS faithful aren't as big on things like that as say, Catholics and other high church Protestants are.  I think soon none of us are going to have much choice in that matter.  Maybe people will pay attention this time, honor Christs Church, his commandments and love the least of these like their forebears did.  If not, they are not worthy of a country nor being stewards of the blessings God bestowed upon them, I think anyway.

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4 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Today before the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis made comments concerning Christmas and consumerism:

I know this is not a new idea, obviously, but I was hoping to have a conversation on how we can "steal" Christmas back from consumerism.

What are ways that we can put Christ in the forefront of our Christmas traditions and celebrations? Should we make gift-giving, a noble practice, less dominant? How could we make gift-giving more Christian?

I find that the ease of online shopping might be a detriment. I go to amazon, poke around, buy something, and have them wrap it and send it. It takes minimal effort and I never even see the gift. And it makes amazon lots of money. It seems pretty much like consumerism to me. Instead I want to try to buy more local, special, unique gifts that I wrap and send myself.

If we buy and spend less, though, does the economy suffer? A lot of businesses rely on the holiday season.

The Pope discussed how Mary gave an "active yes" to God's invitation during the Annunciation, and that we should do the same. He also said that we shouldn't complain during this difficult time, and try do so much for ourselves and our friends, but instead do something for those that no-one is thinking of.

There is the common phrase "let's put Christ back in Christmas" and that's kinda what I'm getting at here. I like to respond to that phrase with "yes, and let's also put the mass back in Christmas." One way to put Christ in the forefront is to practice religious observances. Liturgical Christians have wonderful religious traditions that we can use leading up to and including Christmas day (I personally go to midnight Mass and sometimes also dawn). How does the LDS church use services during the Christmas season? Do you think there could be more, like a service on Christmas eve or Christmas day?

Any other thoughts on Christmas traditions would be welcome, too, such as things you do already or would like to do, etc.

Happy fourth Sunday of Advent! We are in the octave before Christmas, so this hymn, based on the O Antiphons, is most appropriate (the video is a recording of the schola from Christendom College):

 

 

This was a big priority for me and my husband when starting to set our Xmas traditions. My family growing up had definitely gone the consumerist route. It had gotten so bad that everyone basically knew their gifts, there was a canned “wowww” to the gifts given, and only really big gifts were a surprise sometimes. So for us we’re going with one gift and it needs to be meaningful and relatively inexpensive. Last year I made a memory book that we could add to each year. He made me a little wooden box to put my large seed collection  in. We would give extra to charity of our choosing and when the kiddos get older look for service activities we can do together. There’s still some family activities from my side that I enjoy. Xmas concerts, a real tree and decorating it, and singing. Lots of singing. And we do Peruvian Xmas food. it’s in someways easier because we could start out fresh with our holiday to decide what we did or didn’t want and our daughter won’t know the difference. 
 

When i was in Texas for xmas, I’d often go to midnight mass with my mom, a sibling or two, and my catholic grandma when she was up to it in part because i loved the singing. I definitely can see the value of said programs....but personally I like the familial ease of Christmas now. This year, with such a chaotic and exhausting year I think I just need the respite of personal family time and peace. Our service usually before Xmas is a Christmas program and the class after Xmas will also be very Jesus oriented. So on the church front I don’t feel a sense of lack. I’m hoping the day of to spend a little time writing in the memory book something good and valued from this year. I want to see the Grace even in a hard time to remind me that Christ is with us in these moments. 
 

with luv, 

BD 

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2 hours ago, rchorse said:

I haven't heard an official reason either, but I suspect it's in large part due to the fact that those who would have to plan and execute such a service are volunteers with families of their own. It would be asking a lot of the bishopric and others involved to forgo time with their families on Christmas to plan a special meeting. Having been in those shoes, I doubt I could have handled anything fancier that a typical "Christmas Program" the Sunday before Christmas.

Good point. I'm still an unwed college kid so that aspect of things escaped me completely. 

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3 hours ago, poptart said:

If you want to read something a lot more on the fringes check out Ride the Tiger, it touches on Hermeticism quite a bit.  A lot of people, especially single men are to a degree going this route.  It's so easy to be ruined by someone thanks to social media so many men look for ways out.  This was another reason why I changed fields a few years ago, I can avoid a lot of the drama and move around fairly easily.  His book isn't popular in a lot of circles for a few reasons, I think.  He bashes both sides of the political spectrum and calls people out.  Christians, like a lot of people here stateside have lost their way and with the way things are I agree with him, the USA is in for some bad times.  Brigham Option?  Hmmm, ok.  I'll give the Latter Day saints many compliments, one of them being they turned a desert into a habitable city when they went to Utah, that and the city is so well laid out.  Also your food aid is simply a marvel to behold, your social aid period you do via LDS Charities/Deseret Industries is amazing.  You guys are lacking in the vestments/bring department but then again whenever I do post something Christian it's usually High church and almost always Catholic so I do have a bias. 

I personally think we're going to end up like a lot of Latin American countries, islands of wealth surrounded by oceans of poverty.  Families here are a mess and I doubt that's going to change.  Being a decent person is a choice, one I think most anymore will not make.  US society makes it too easy to be a slimeball, we've seen it with how many children have to grow up in some very abusive homes.  Here's something that a lot of your typical American Christian can't even fathom, God may have had it with people here and plans to take away his favor.  People here have had it made and for a few generations now just stood by while things kept getting worse and worse.  I do think we're at the point of no return.  You see a lot more single men now who have to a great degree disengaged from society, for good reason.  Anymore people are looked at as nothing more than an exploitable resource and anyone who dares call anyone out for the amoral things they push may fall victim to things like "cancel culture" or doxing.  That and the values I see a lot of people here having makes me sick to my stomach.  I know a lot of people like to retort with statements along the line of "Don't judge!  Don't judge!"  They forget, after Christ forgave the woman who was about to be stoned to death he also said go your way and sin no more.  Things like that sure make concepts like "Ride the Tiger" and "The Benedict Option" look very, very attractive.  Fortunately, there are traditional communities popping up here in the USA.  We even have a Trappist monastery in the East Coast now that brews Trappist ale, something you really don't see outside of Europe. 

I'm all for a collapse of sorts.  Besides having the life that I have had part of me is enjoying the chaos.  For once the privileged WASP suburbanites are getting a taste of what the other half has to deal with day in and day out.  I think having what security and privilege they feel entitled to stripped away would do them a lot of good.  Poverty does humble you and in my opinion there are a lot of people out there who not only don't deserve what they have, many people who did inherit wealth from hard working parents just squander it.  The Lord Gives the Lord takes is still a thing.  My understanding is the LDS faithful aren't as big on things like that as say, Catholics and other high church Protestants are.  I think soon none of us are going to have much choice in that matter.  Maybe people will pay attention this time, honor Christs Church, his commandments and love the least of these like their forebears did.  If not, they are not worthy of a country nor being stewards of the blessings God bestowed upon them, I think anyway.

You're speaking my language. I have a rather eccentric British friend who told me to read Ride The Tiger. I haven't gotten around to it but I think he now fantasized about "riding the tiger" after everything goes to heck. I can't imagine God is super satisfied with the state of affairs in this place. As for traditionalism, I didn't even know places like St. Mary's existed, so that's kind of interesting. Everybody talks about polarization, the urban/rural divide, etc, but I think we're struggling to grasp the true meaning of these abstracts on our daily lives. We're essentially balkanizing as a people and the old structures that bound us all together have frayed or been replaced by tailor-made optimized consumables. We can basically choose our communities now and curate those whom we encounter through social media. The transient job market, where everybody moves, unseats people from a geographical and communal identity. I've lived in my little Indiana town for longer than anywhere else at this point and this place means things to me, but I'll have to pack up and leave soon because that's just how the market is. I'd say that all these costs were just the price for our near-Elysian material prosperity, but even then I served my mission in urban LA and that prosperity doesn't get to everyone. As a society we're clearly in some form of transition, we're imbalanced, and I'm worried about what must inevitably follow. 

Also, for what it's worth, I've always appreciated that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. God's not some kind of vending-machine Pollyanna and I'm appreciative. 

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